Category Archives: Preparations

Gifts, Friends, and a long Walk

Today was a very intensive day. During the French breakfast in the hotel some new faces appeared; it doesn’t matter how well the profile pages have been created and how up-to-date the Sametime picture is – meeting from face to face is different… and nice!

Gifts from all over the worldImane from DOT and Nabil from IBM set up an informal meeting where they provided as new information and time to introduce us in personal. Amazing and funny stories we’ve heard! And it was a very profitable session, too: at the end we got gifts from all over the world (obviously I brought Swiss chocolate!). :-)

Afterwards we got ready for a first city walk in Casablanca. For now, we skipped the Medina (old town) as it would be pretty crowded at Saturday and headed towards the port and caught a glimpse at Hassan II Mosque with it’s world’s tallest minaret (210 m) – we’ll come again tomorrow.

Kemia - similar to Tapas in SpainWe fought the hunger in a nice garden restaurant where some of us tried “Kemia”, an array of small dishes (similar to “Tapas” in Spain). Very tasty lunch – we shared many bits among us, everybody is eager to enhance his own Morocco experiences.

We returned quite late and pretty tired – she called many of us “slow walkers”, whereas others had the impression she was running. :-D Anyway, after a short refreshing in the hotel room (and changing sneakers to elegant / black shoes) Imane organized her brother and two taxies for a ride to the SKY28 at the “Twin Towers” of Casa. Big windows allowed a great view over the city, mirrors on the roof funny selfies.

Thanks Imane for this amazing Casablanca experience!

Markets at the wall of the medina  Outside of the Medina
(Click to enlarge)

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Last Duties before Leaving

The day before the departure has come, finally. Steffi made Mexican fajitas for us, which allowed me to spend more time on packing… physically and virtually (Do I have enough E-Books for a month? The nerd within me claimed this question to be more important than having enough socks in the suitcase… ).

Before I will going to spend time and blog entries about Morocco, a last detail about Switzerland: the Swiss population – i.e. the part which is entitled to vote – is asked to put their votes for several national debates around 4 times per year. Just today the documents arrived and I could fill them just on time.

Swiss voting documents

But somehow it was strange to decide about new fighting jets for the Swiss army and about an increased minimum income (which is much higher than the average people get in other countries) just before leaving to a rather peaceful and altruistic undertaking… .

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Project Stakeholders Call

One thing every CSC member in the preparation phase impatiently is waiting for is the project and team assignment note. I was delighted to learn that I will work for ALCS – Association de Lutte Contre le Sida (Association for fighting AIDS).

ALCSI will be working together with Cathy (US), Ram (IN) and Patrick (FR) and am already looking forward to working with them together for a really impressive NGO. The SOW (Scope of Work) is drafted, but will be discussed in detail once we’re landed. The first call with the NGO leaders was very interesting, even though it was mainly in French and I only got about 75% of it… or even less. ;-) Thanks to Patrick for his summaries and the initiative for a call after the call (now in English). :-)

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The World united… or plan Meetings between 3 Continents

Part of the preparation phase is also to get to know your team mates. For that we got some exercises which should be solved in small subteams. In my point of view the challenge was however not the different professional or cultural background of the other team members or the workload… it was rather difficult to find a proper time in which IBMers from America, Europe and Asia could find a time for a meeting which is not at 3 A.M. in one time zone or 11 P.M. in another one… and also free from other tasks.

A bit of help was The World Clock Meeting Planner, but it still required many mails and replannings. Doodle supports meetings in different time zones to a certain degree… but I haven’t used it before and didn’t want to send invitation suggestions for midnight to my new colleagues. ;-)

World Clock Meeting Scheduler

We managed it at the end, and I now also have an AT&T TeleConference account. Nevertheless, collaboration will be much easier when we are all in Casablanca. :-)

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Country Navigator – or why I could be Swede

Country Navigator Top 10We have a well-structured 3-months learning plan as preparation to our on-site assignment. The good thing is, many exercises are also fun. Part of the cultural awareness sessions was to complete our personal profile in Country Navigator. Try it out for yourself, it’s free and interesting!

By indicating how to act, think and communicate in several situations the system creates a visual profile which can then be compared with your friend’s profiles… or with a specific country. As it turned out, Switzerland was not within the top 10 matching countries to my profile – closest match was Sweden! :-)

What to do with it? In my point of view such results can never be 100% accurate – but that’s also not the aim. It helps however to reflect about your way of collaboration and where you might be careful in another cultural environment.

Country Navigator - my profile vs. Morocco

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Admin Stuff

The expectations for a CSC project team are high. Logically this requires an intense preparation and some inevitable admin stuff. It has been a long time since I created a new CV, for example. Also, a cover letter (with as less IBM jargon as possible) was required, in order that the local partner in Morocco could start the project matching process (our team would be split up onto several different projects / customers). At least I already have a valid passport (no Visa required for Morocco – at least not for most of us). Also, I skipped the vaccination part – think it should be still up to date since my India assignment… .

Iberia & British AirwaysLast but not least the flight to Casablanca has to be organized. It’s not world’s end, but from Zurich there are just a few direct flights (not every day), so a short detour via Madrid was inevitable. I usually check and apply for the frequent flyer profiles for each new airline I use; I’m not a big mile collector, but I feel a bit safer during online check-in when the airline has my profile. Never flew with Iberia before, but as I got to know, British Airways and Iberia merged in 2010… which would confuse me several months later when receiving an unexpected “Your departure” mail from ;-)

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An international Team

Today Jamie sent the official welcome message and announced the other team members. 15 Ladies and Gents will form the Morocco 5 team. Amazing!

Ana Paula Brazil
Brittany USA
Cathy USA
Dany Canada
Duki Slovakia
Gerry Switzerland
Grant USA
Lauren Puerto Rico
Laurie USA
Michael Israel
Patrick France
Prashant India
Ram India
Sayoko Japan
Susan USA

(I don’t want to give too much personal details here, but I can link to their blogs and galleries later on.)

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Quick decision required

2013 passed without much news… I just knew that I should get informed about my assignment at least 3 months in advance for all preparations. One afternoon, I got the exciting news:

Congratulations for Morocco 5

But this also required quick actions on my side: get the approval from the project management, thinking about deputies during my absence, checking private plans for this time… . At the end I could reply with a positive answer, luckily.

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The following mail made me to shout a loud “YES!!!”:


Now, a time of waiting and uncertainty will start. When will I go on assignment? And even more thrilling: Where? Participants cannot chose their preferred assignment country, but I could mention the region of preference. I gave “Middle East and Africa” the highest priority, as I have already been in Asia (10 months in India) and for South America I felt that the missing language Skills in Spanish or Portuguese would be a drawback. But maybe a French speaking African country? Let’s see… .

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